When Should Kids Start Looking at Colleges?

There are some things in life to which the phrase 'it's never too early' certainly applies, such as investing or eating healthy. But does it apply to planning your child's college education? Not necessarily. While you and your child should begin planning for college before senior year of high school, starting the process too early does not seem to have many benefits.

Find available tutors

college prep tips

The Planning Stage

So when is the ideal time to turn your sights on college? Many seem to agree that the start of junior year should also start your child's college search.

This is the time when standardized tests such as the SAT or ACT should be taken. During this year, you might also look into college summer programs for high school students that your child can participate in during the summer before their senior year.

Junior year is also not too early to visit some college campuses. If your child is planning on going away to college, but it's not possible to visit a campus out of state, tour a few local colleges instead. Allow your child to tour the dorm rooms to get a feel for what living away from home might be like.

If your child can narrow their college choices down to two or three institutions, great. You can then look into the admissions requirements for each school and get an idea of what each college or university is looking for. The college admissions process can be quite extensive so anything you can do to get a jump on that process is beneficial.

The Early Worm...

From an academic standpoint, your child should understand that good grades are important when it comes to applying to college. While eighth grade may be a bit too young to focus entirely on higher education, you can encourage your child to start doing some things that could affect the process later.

Kids should begin to develop good study habits in middle school. Now, too, is the time they might begin to think about a career. If they seem as if they've decided about what they want to do in life, now is the time to start exploring the type of courses they should plan on taking in high school.

At this age, you might encourage your child to join school clubs, participate in sports or do some volunteer or community work and continue through high school. These types of activities look great on a college application.

Under Pressure

There seems to be little benefit to getting your child to focus on college at too young an age. Some feel that starting to talk too much about college during a child's middle school years can add undue pressure throughout high school.

And quite honestly, few 13- or 14-year olds really know exactly what they want to do in life. Making a choice about college is a major decision and they simply might not be up for the task. If they're forced to do so at too young an age, they might make the wrong decisions that will affect them later.

About the only thing you need to do to prepare your younger child for college is to start saving for tuition. When it comes to that, 'it's never too early' definitely applies. In fact, planning to pay for a college education could begin the day your child is born!

Did you find this useful? If so, please let others know!

Other Articles You May Be Interested In

  • More Blog Articles
    Should Your Child Finish High School Before Learning to Drive?

    One method that seems to be fairly effective with many kids who are not doing well in school is to take away something they enjoy, such as TV, video games or cell phones. Some state governments have even enacted laws wherein licenses are taken away from those who drop out of school. Is this too much government interference?...

  • More Blog Articles
    Pepper Spraying Students: High School Security Gone Awry

    When students feel unsafe in school, they should be able to trust in the school's security officers. But in Birmingham, it's the security officers who are making the students feel unsafe. Their aggressive use of pepper spray is causing controversy and heightening friction with students.

We Found 7 Tutors You Might Be Interested In

Huntington Learning

  • What Huntington Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • One on one tutoring
  • Every Huntington tutor is certified and trained extensively on the most effective teaching methods
In-Center and Online


  • What K12 offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Has a strong and effective partnership with public and private schools
  • AdvancED-accredited corporation meeting the highest standards of educational management
Online Only

Kaplan Kids

  • What Kaplan Kids offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Customized learning plans
  • Real-Time Progress Reports track your child's progress
Online Only


  • What Kumon offers:
  • In-center tutoring
  • Individualized programs for your child
  • Helps your child develop the skills and study habits needed to improve their academic performance
In-Center and Online

Sylvan Learning

  • What Sylvan Learning offers:
  • Online and in-center tutoring
  • Sylvan tutors are certified teachers who provide personalized instruction
  • Regular assessment and progress reports
In-Home, In-Center and Online

Tutor Doctor

  • What Tutor Doctor offers:
  • In-Home tutoring
  • One on one attention by the tutor
  • Develops personlized programs by working with your child's existing homework
In-Home Only


  • What TutorVista offers:
  • Online tutoring
  • Student works one-on-one with a professional tutor
  • Using the virtual whiteboard workspace to share problems, solutions and explanations
Online Only

Our Commitment to You

  • Free Help from Teachers

  • Free Learning Materials

  • Helping Disadvantaged Youth